Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

San Antonio Police Officer Who Body-Slammed 12-Year-Old Girl Is Fired

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

San Antonio Police Officer Who Body-Slammed 12-Year-Old Girl Is Fired

Article excerpt

A police officer from a San Antonio middle school was fired Monday for what officials say is an unwarranted use of force on a 12- year-old girl and for giving the district an account that was "inconsistent with the video" of the incident.

The firing came a week after a half-minute video shot by an unidentified student at Rhodes Middle School on March 29 circulated widely online, showing Officer Joshua Kehm struggling with the girl, Janissa Valdez, in a student-packed school hallway before picking her up and slamming her, face down, to the ground. Officer Kehm then handcuffed Janissa, picked her up, and led her away.

Students had surrounded Valdez and another girl who were in an altercation before Kehm body-slammed the sixth-grader. He told the school district that Valdez fell accidentally after fighting an arrest, according to San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Paul Martinez.

"We understand that situations can sometimes escalate to the point of requiring a physical response; however, in this situation we believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted," said Mr. Martinez in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

"Additionally, the officer's report was inconsistent with the video and it was also delayed, which is not in accordance with the general operating procedures of the police department," he said.

Kehm had been a San Antonio school police officer since February 2015.

His firing, and the body-slamming itself, feed into a national debate over police presence in schools in the age of mass shootings. While some believe that police presence helps keep schools safer, others fear that it leads to unwarranted arrests, particularly of minority students, creating a pipeline from schools to jails and generating more friction between police and their communities. …

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